Architectural students of my generation—the last of the baby boomers, starting college in Europe or in the Americas in the late 1970s—had many good reasons to cherish architectural history. Everyone seemed to agree at the time that the Modernist project was conspicuously failing. Late Modernist monsters were then wreaking havoc on cities and lands around the world, and the most immediate, knee-jerk reaction against what many then saw as an ongoing catastrophe was to try and bring back all that 20th-century high Modernism had kicked out of design culture: history, for a start. I drew my first Doric capital, circa 1979, in a design studio, not in a history class (and my tutor immediately ordered me to scrape it, which I did).
Architecture as a profession today struggles with questions of relevance, with core questions surrounding the issue of whether it can create cultural vibrancy and meaning for the diverse world it serves. Within our own design community, we tend to give a lot of sway to an “exclusive tier” of architects who provide leadership and vision. While this leadership is critically important to the profession, it only corresponds to 2% of what gets built. Take it from Frank Gehry, whose 2014 comment still rings in our ears: “98% of everything that is built and designed today is pure sh*t. There is no sense of design, no respect for humanity."
If we embrace the importance and unique value of all things built on a wider range, we need to ask ourselves: how have we served and rewarded our peers responsible for creating this other 98%? Where should we set the bar for the emotional-artistic qualities of mainstream architecture?
Economics and technology affect every profession. But since World War II perhaps no profession has experienced more technological change than architecture. These shifts occurred, paradoxically, within a well-established professional model of personal development: The guild structure of learning in the academy, then becoming professional via internship leading to licensure, has been the structure of practice for almost two centuries.
Once upon a time manual drafting with graphite or ink was applied by white males, and a single sheet master was reproduced with typed specifications added, and buildings were constructed.
Philip Johnson lived a long and extraordinarily eventful life. He was an architect, a museum curator, a tastemaker, a kingmaker, a schemer, an exceptionally vivid cultural presence. Mark Lamster, architecture critic of the Dallas Morning News and Harvard Loeb Fellowship recipient, has now written a thoroughly engaging biography of him entitled, Philip Johnson, Architect of the Modern Century: The Man in the Glass House. I talked to Lamster two weeks ago about the book and the bundle of contradictions that was Philip Johnson.
Architecture, unlike other aspects of culture (such as fashion or music), can only really be experienced and understood in person. For highly branded companies, designing a new building can be a prime opportunity to signal taste and values - but also creates an interesting architectural conundrum. While the buildings will be inhabited (nearly 24/7) by company employees, they’re also very much populated by the imaginations of people across the globe. What is it like to be in these places?
This article was originally published on ArchDaily on 13 February 2018.
The City of Toronto has a long, fraught relationship with development and vacancy. The map of the initial Toronto Purchase of 1787 between the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation and the British Crown, which would later establish the colonial territory that became Toronto, conceives of the landscape as a single, clearly defined vacant lot anxious for development. Or, as artist Luis Jacob better described it, “signifying nothing but an empty page waiting to be inscribed at will.” Over two-hundred years later, as housing availability, prices, and rental shortages drive vertical condominium developments in the city, the politics of the vacant lot have never felt so palpable.
The work of an architect and urban planner can take on many forms thanks to the diverse curricular composition of most graduate courses, with subjects that deal with designing in different scales and contexts. From great urban plans to home renovations, and the metropolis to furniture design, these branches deal with different objects, however, all in common are the use of drawing and models as a tool for representation.
Whatever the project may be, drawing is the way to represent reality, ideas, speculations, and conceptions. Scale, a factor that establishes the level of reading one must make of these representations, determines the link between the real world and the dimensions of the drawing or model. For instance, the scale 1:1 is also known as “full size.”
In her lifetime, Pritzker prize-winning architect, fashion designer and artist Zaha Hadid (31 October 1950 – 31 March 2016) became one of the most recognizable faces of our field. Revered and denounced in equal measure for the sensuous curved forms for which she was known, Hadid rose to prominence not solely through parametricism but by designing spaces to occupy geometries in new ways. Despite her tragically early death in March of 2016, the projects now being completed by her office without their original lead designer continue to push boundaries both creative and technological, while the fearless media presence she cultivated in recent decades has cemented her place in society as a woman who needs just one name: Zaha.
The story of the Hastings Pier is an improbable one. Located in Hastings - a stone's throw away from the battlefield that defined English history - the pier was first opened to the promenading public in 1872. For decades the structure, an exuberant array of Victorian-era decoration, entertained seaside crowds but by the new millennium had fallen out of disrepair. In 2008 the pier was closed - a closure that became seemingly irreversible when, two years later, it burnt down.
To rank architects, or to even pretend that any list or selection would be exhaustive and/or apply to the individual tastes of every architecture lover, seems, on the surface, a pointless task. However, as we move away from looking for inspiration from merely the great masters or the handful of contemporary firms studied in academic programs, it is important to shine a light on the works that we, as ArchDaily editors, have found particularly valuable. Of the thousands of architects whose projects have been selected to be published on our site, we occasionally notice firms whose work stands out. Whether we’re drawn to their innovative approach to practice, the role they play in contributing to their local communities, or their generosity, we are eager to display their work as an example, so that others may be inspired to challenge the status quo.
https://www.archdaily.com/904738/a-selection-of-the-worlds-best-architectsAD Editorial Team
This article was originally published on November 2, 2015. To read the stories behind other celebrated architecture projects, visit our AD Classics section.
As Norman Foster describes in his firm’s monograph, Foster 40, “Our transformation of the Reichstag is rooted in four related issues: the Bundestag’s significance as a democratic forum, an understanding of history, a commitment to public accessibility and a vigorous environmental agenda.” Foster’s description sounds straightforward enough, but the process of creating the New German Parliament at the Reichstag was only the latest entry in the long, complex, and contentious history of the building.
Today we celebrate the 90th anniversary of Paulo Mendes da Rocha. With a unique integrity in his thinking and design, his career has already been celebrated with the highest awards an architect can receive, from the Pritzker Prize in 2006 to the 2018 Golden Lion from the Venice Biennale and the Praemium Imperiale in 2016. Here, instead of presenting his impressive projects, we have asked architects to share some of their stories, talk about his practice and how his thinking has influenced them.
https://www.archdaily.com/904685/brazilian-architects-honor-paulo-mendes-da-rocha-on-his-90th-birthdayEquipe ArchDaily Brasil
Paul Rudolph, despite vaulting to international success in the early 1940s and 50s for his Brutalist structures, saw an abrupt end to the popularity of his signature style as postmodernism gained prominence. As tastes shifted to different fare, so too did Rudolph's approach - leaving a number of his unbuilt proposals to gather dust.
Steel and concrete facades have dominated contemporary cityscapes for generations, but as pressures from climate change pose new challenges for design and construction industries, some firms are turning to mass timber as the construction material of the future. But could it be used for structures as complex as skyscrapers?
This article was originally published on October 19, 2015. To read the stories behind other celebrated architecture projects, visit our AD Classics section.
The Bank of London and South America (Banco de Londres y América del Sud, or BLAS) in Buenos Aires defies convention and categorization, much like the architect primarily credited with its design, Clorindo Testa. A unique client relationship, guided by the bank’s staff architect Gerald Wakeham, and a supportive collaboration with the firm Sánchez Elía, Peralta Ramos and Agostini (SEPRA) resulted in a building that continues to evoke surprise and fascination.
This article was originally published on May 9, 2016. To read the stories behind other celebrated architecture projects, visit our AD Classics section.
Situated on the peak of Bergisel Mountain above the picturesque alpine city of Innsbruck, Austria, the Bergisel Ski Jump represents the contemporary incarnation of a historic landmark. Designed by Zaha Hadid between 1999 and 2002, the Ski Jump is a study in formal expression: its sweeping lines and minimalist aesthetic create a sense of graceful, high-speed motion, reflecting the dynamic sensation of a ski jump in a monumental structure that stands above the historic center of Innsbruck and the mountain slopes around.
Architecture is a profession deeply dependent on the visual. It’s imagined, sold, critiqued and consumed almost entirely on the strength (or lack thereof) of drawings. We pick and prod at images presented at angles we’ll never be able to see, admiring the architectonic qualities of elements we’ll never actually experience.
This article was originally published on December 5, 2016. To read the stories behind other celebrated architecture projects, visit our AD Classics section.
Even in Manhattan—a sea of skyscrapers—the Empire State Building towers over its neighbours. Since its completion in 1931 it has been one of the most iconic architectural landmarks in the United States, standing as the tallest structure in the world until the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center were constructed in Downtown Manhattan four decades later. Its construction in the early years of the Great Depression, employing thousands of workers and requiring vast material resources, was driven by more than commercial interest: the Empire State Building was to be a monument to the audacity of the United States of America, “a land which reached for the sky with its feet on the ground.”